2018 in Review

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

 

On this coldest of January days, it’s best to stay inside. So I wanted to send a quick update on our family and farm for those of you interested…


2017 proved to be a year of unknowns, instability, testing, trusting, and finally, hope.
2018 was a year of joy, striving, growth and peace.
Though we went through significant change, that change was used for our joy and to bring us closer to the God who formed us and whom we live with and for from day to day.

In Our Family

2018 has been about working together as a family and loving it. We have learned better how to love each other’s differences and get less uptight when things don’t get done. It has been encouraging to see our boys growing in wisdom and strength and look forward to what the future holds.

We are still homeschooling and love the flexibility and opportunities that this provides. Our boys also love that they can get done at their pace and learn about things that interest them. It has been a highlight to have Mat teach woodworking most Thursdays as well. We also love taking our annual camping trip. This year we went to Wisconsin.

Of course, the continued support of Mat’s parents keep us going. Having Mat’s dad here two or three times a month to help with projects around the farm is a delight for all of us. The boys love snagging him for a game of UNO too.

On the Farm

As for the land, the pasture and high tunnel ground has been flourishing under our intentional care for it. The bare spots in the pasture have become thick and long. The unproductive clay in the high tunnel has become rich and soft producing a much tastier fruit and higher yielding plants.

With the land production improving, our animals have been flourishing as well. Our herd has grown to a point that we have more beef and pork than what our customers are needing. For chicken and turkey, we have also gone to producing only what people order in the Spring. This helps our sanity in trying to sell chicken, but increases our need to find more customers for beef and pork. Since the majority of our sales are directly to the customer our main form of advertising has been through emails or by word of mouth from other satisfied buyers.

Continuing On

We will continue to grow within the means provided for us, not taking on debt or time consuming endeavors we can’t afford. With our land and animals maintaining a level of constant improvement, now we will focus on how to sell the abundance. If you have any tips for us in this area, we’d love to hear your knowledge.

Thank you for being part of our journey. We appreciate your words of encouragement, knowledge and support in buying the produce of the land. We hope this coming year is one of great joy and growth for you all.

Sincerely,

Katie, for the whole Nix family

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A Little of Our Story

There are so many reasons we came north to farm. Actually, not long before we made the move we thought we were to be missionaries in Cambodia, working alongside church planters to help others care for creation rather than continue the careless exploitation of the land that many have adopted. Why in the world are we here in rural Minnesota?

Well, maybe we needed to make the agricultural mistakes here first and learn a lot ourselves still. Maybe our boys will take over and we’ll still head out, maybe not. We have continually learned that we cannot determine our future in many aspects. Sickness happens, poverty happens, and good things happen too. We do know that we are to be faithful wherever God has us and in many ways we are doing exactly what we would be doing in Cambodia, but here among the rural people of Minnesota.

As we lived in the city we had worked with many over the years that had little knowledge of how to work and where food came from, so we started Gardens of Praise, an urban agricultural development project that strives to go beyond reconnecting urban people with nature to reconnecting them with their Creator and to bring the knowledge of how to produce their own food into the city through holistic farming experiences.

As that moved forward, we also sought to be part of a farm school project here on our farm. However, the community was quite against it since we failed to accurately portray who we were bringing to the farm. They thought inner city youth = thugs, druggies, etc. None of the youth we were thinking of were involved with drugs or had been in trouble with the law. Yes, their parents had, but these youth were trying to get out of the cycle.

As that was shot down, we still had the desire to bring young men and women that had been discipled in Christ, but were still in a hard spot, up to the farm to continue to be discipled and learn the value of work and where our food comes from. What about inviting mentors and youth up to a working farm to share a weekend working together, furthering relationship, and learning the amazing intricacies of how God has ordered this world? What about internships to teach young men and women the value of working as unto the Lord even when the work is tough and smelly? What about retreats where people can just get out of the city and find joy in God’s creation and those they retreat with?

Others came alongside us and pushed us this way. And now we’re here working out what it means to glorify God in farming day to day. We started with savings and the conviction to stay debt free. Mat’s family already had the land and some equipment that was necessary. Our objective was to become profitable within five years in order that we could then focus on our other goals of internships. We do have people up for retreats and such, but hope that with an established farm we would have more time and resources to devote to such things, such as building a larger housing area for groups or being able to spend more time teaching. Though we knew it would be a lot of work, I was surprised at the constant need to always be working. Our animals needed to be fed and cared for or they would not survive. Problems and equipment needed to be fixed or something would die, etc. We also had young children, so having people come actually set us back for the first few years. Also, with the constant work, it became a high stress job. A stressed out host isn’t much fun to be around.

Our story isn’t over, but we’ve come a long way in this farming endeavor. March 2017 will mark our fourth year on the farm. We started in March 2013. We have been so happy to host those interested in farming and to share what we can with them and our immediate community. Mathew is an amazing resource to myself, others and the church. What God has done through him here in Northern Minnesota has been a joy to see. Endurance is not always easy, but the fruit of endurance is so satisfying. Our practices are improving, our product has definitely become quality, and we’ve learned so much from our previous mistakes. Slowly we move forward.

So what am I getting at by telling you our story? Well, when you buy anything, you are supporting the farmers and producers and the practices of production behind that product. In buying our food you are supporting what we are trying to do here on the farm. We are in the business of practicing careful dominion over creation – land, animals, and people. Consider purchasing a portion of your meat supply from us this year.

How do you order from us? Visit our Ordering Information page (link also in top bar menu).

Keep up to date with what we’re doing through our regular Facebook or Instagram posts.

 

Righteous Oaks News

This is the time of year to be on the farm. There is so much excitement and so many new babies to see. Here’s our highlights from this month so far:

  • April started strong with sap flowing full swing. We’re still collecting and will likely continue until Wednesday with our final boil down Thursday and Friday.
  • We had two amazing visitors. Jaeden has been here three times now and this time brought along her friend Olive. We met Jaeden during  J(une)-Term 2015 through AFSA high school. She and eight others came for a whole week of farm experiences. Her second visit was this last fall when she helped us harvest honey, harvest garden veggies and make jelly. April 3-6, her and Olive enjoyed lots of newborn baby goats, feeding our lone bottle baby, collecting sap, planting onions in the high tunnel, and playing games with our boys. We enjoyed our time with them and hope we didn’t work them too hard.
  • Our first new experience this April is our little bottle baby, Prancer. The boys run, jump, and frolic in the yard with him each day and he stays close to our farm dog Ruby at nights. We’re hoping to bring him out to pasture once he’s on two feedings a day. Right now he is 15 days old.
  • Peter turned 10 years old this month, yes double digits. He’s an amazing boy and becoming quite the farmer himself.
  • Home school continues. My boys are motivated to get our studies done before summer arrives.
  • Our second batch of piglets were born yesterday! Mat counted twelve that seem to be thriving. One didn’t survive and one is half the size of the others. Peter can’t wait until they get big enough to ride.
  • Our second new adventure arrived on the farm today. She is a Dexter-Jersey heifer calf. Even though she isn’t a year old, she’s likely over 400 pounds. We’re hoping to breed her and have a calf and fresh cow milk next summer. Silas cannot wait. It will be fun to get to know this new addition over the next months. Please comment with any name ideas, for she doesn’t have one yet.

Not even half done and we’ve had lots of excitement. We’re excited for more goats babies, more visitors, more planting, and lots of action as the month continues.

Seeds We Sow… a post about grief

By Katie Nix
The following has been written over the course of a week or mulled over for the last three years or so. I am not the best of writers, so it is likely jumbled and I use way too many commas, but if you feel so inclined to read about how the promises of the God of the Bible has brought me through, please read.
Seeds of discontent or seeds of plentiful harvest? (I’ve been in the gospel of Mark thinking about seeds a lot lately)

River

Photo Credit: Eric Berget

Continue reading

In the News

Page A01

Our Greater Mille Lacs Sustainable Farmering Association was featured in the Aitkin Independent Age this past Wednesday on page 4 of the Progress Edition. Click the picture to the right or on “page 4” to read all about it. There were lots of pictures from our farm. I think Peter took pride in being on the front page of the paper and full page of the Progress Edition.

Mat has also been working on a farm to institution event that will be happening March 29. We hope to promote connection between local producers and institutions like schools and nursing homes. Local foods promotes health and local economy. Click NEWS to see the link to that article.

Mathew’s Book List

Here’s a quick post I thought some of you might like. It’s a book list. Mathew has a very ambitious list* including biography, agriculture and Christian discipleship. I hope to join in reading a few. Are you reading any of these this year?

January:

  1. Shepherding a Child’s Heart – Tedd Tripp (215)
  2. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand (528)
  3. The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter (256)

February:

  1. The Trellis and the Vine – Colin Marshall and Tony Payne (196)
  2. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmond Morris (960)
  3. Holiness  – J.C. Ryle (419)

March:

  1. Fields of Farmers – Joel Salatin (304)
  2. Team of Rivals – Doris Goodman (945)
  3. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment – Jeremiah Burroughs (143)

April:

  1. Age of Opportunity – Paul Tripp (265)
  2. John Calvin – Robert Godfrey (208)
  3. The Bruised Reed – Richard Sibbs (64)

May:

  1. Love Walked Among Us – Paul Miller (274)
  2. John Newton – Jonathan Aitken (402)
  3. All Things for Good – Thomas Watson (126)

June:

  1. Reforming Marriage – Doug Wilson (154)
  2. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert – Rosaria Butterfield (208)
  3. Charity and Its Fruits – Jonathan Edwards (352)

 

 

 

 

 

July:

  1. Church Discipline – Jonathan Leeman (146)
  2. The Forgotten Spurgeon – Iain Murray (269)
  3. The Holy War – John Bunyan (190)

August

  1. The Imperfect Pastor – Zack Eswine (272)
  2. Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor – D. A. Carson (163)
  3. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God – J.I. Packer (129)

September

  1. Every Square Inch – Bruce Ashford (176)
  2. The Wright Brothers – David McCullough (336)
  3. The Fountain of Life – John Flavel (386)

October

  1. Generous Justice – Timothy Keller (268)
  2. Churchill – Paul Johnson (192)
  3. Luther on the Christian Life – Carl Trueman and Robert Kolb (226)

November

  1. Evangelical Ethics – John Davis (360)
  2. Here I Stand – Roland Bainton (464)
  3. Augustine of Hippo – Peter Brown (568)

December

  1. Above All Earthly Pow’rs – David Wells (339)
  2. Truman – David McCullough (1120)
  3. Newton on the Christian Life – Tony Reinke (290)

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to me, this is ambitious considering the number of pages and the amount of time Mathew has to read. He’s too busy trying to sell the last of our hogs for Easter. However, he is not a speed reader and in no way compares to others, such as Albert Mohler.

Also, all the above links are affiliate links in case any of you like buying things off amazon. Sorry Jackie Lea, Truest didn’t make Mathew’s list this year. I guess it didn’t fall into his categories.

A Tough Year

It seems I always have the goal to keep this blog up to date and then life happens. In the last twelve months, we’ve gone through two births of twelve week old gestation babies, fully formed and dead in our hands and the death of my mom. Part of me says, no one wants to hear this, it’s depressing. Then I think about how I’ve been helped by those that don’t exclusively share the happy times, but reveal that they too have suffering and struggles. I am not alone. We have also recently left our church which is a different kind of grieving, but has left us broken too.
All this to say that all these things have not left us hopeless, but since we know who God is, through His word – the Bible; we are all the more hopeful because of what He has produced in our lives because of these sufferings. We have found the sweet times all the sweeter. We have found His word all the more satisfying. We have found the hope of 2 Corinthians 4:17 all the more real, that “These light (though they feel so extremely heavy) and momentary (definitely momentary in light of eternity) troubles are producing an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Thank you to all of you who have walked with us through these times, who have and are praying for us, and for the gifts of many of you who are reading this. We are so grateful for your support and now know better how to love others in hard times because of your example to us.